Leap­ing off the screen

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - ROUNDTABLE - By YANG HAN in Hong Kong [email protected]­nadai­lya­pac.com

In the 10 years since the State Coun­cil is­sued the Out­line of the Na­tional In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Strat­egy, new in­dus­tries re­lated to IP, rang­ing from on­line lit­er­a­ture and an­i­ma­tion to games, have de­vel­oped in leaps and bounds.

In 2017, the value of China’s pa­nen­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try — mul­ti­level cre­ative prod­ucts de­vel­oped from IP — ex­ceeded 500 bil­lion yuan ($72.5 bil­lion), ac­count­ing for more than 20 per­cent of the to­tal dig­i­tal econ­omy.

The mon­e­ti­za­tion rate of mo­bile games is the high­est among all pa­nen­ter­tain­ment in­dus­tries, sur­pass­ing 200 bil­lion yuan, with IP-based mo­bile games ac­count­ing for over 60 per­cent of the rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Chi­nese gam­ing in­dus­try data­base Gamma Data Corp.

In re­sponse to the in­dus­try trend, a China Daily Asia Lead­er­ship Round­table event was held on Thurs­day dur­ing the first day of the two-day Busi­ness of IP Asia Fo­rum (BIP Asia) in Hong Kong.

Co-or­ga­nized by China Daily Asia Pa­cific and BIP Asia, the panel dis­cus­sion brought to­gether in­dus­try lead­ers, con­tent pro­duc­ers and in­vestors un­der the theme Era of IP Con­ver­gence: Max­i­miz­ing Ben­e­fits of Cross-me­dia Col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Movies and TV dra­mas are a ma­jor form of IP adap­ta­tion in China and this IP mostly comes from on­line lit­er­a­ture, said Leon Gao Shouzhi, pres­i­dent and founder of En­tGroup, a provider of in­for­ma­tion and in­tel­li­gence for China’s en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

Data from En­tGroup show that about 50 to 70 per­cent of peo­ple of all ages ac­cept IP-based movies and TV dra­mas, while only 20 per­cent of peo­ple ac­cept IP-based games. In 2017, di­rect rev­enue gen­er­ated by IP-based movies and dra­mas was about 350 mil­lion yuan, in which 76 per­cent of this con­tent was adapted from on­line lit­er­a­ture.

Mean­while, games based on movies, re­al­ity shows and dra­mas tend to be more pop­u­lar with au­di­ences. “For ex­am­ple, games based on the an­i­ma­tion film Boonie Bears, the drama The Jour­ney of Flower and the re­al­ity show Run­ning Man have all gained good re­sults in the num­ber of ac­tive users, with some of them reach­ing tens of mil­lions of ac­tive users,” said Gao.

But a short prod­uct life is a shared is­sue among var­i­ous IP adap­ta­tions, said Gao. He said he would like to see the in­dus­try fo­cus more on the char­ac­ter­is­tics and pref­er­ences of young au­di­ences, in par­tic­u­lar the post-1995 gen­er­a­tion.

“Many peo­ple are also rush­ing to mon­e­tize their IP once they have at­tracted tens of mil­lions of fans … In Hol­ly­wood, it needs 10 years for an IP to grow ma­ture enough,” said Gao, hop­ing the in­dus­try can be more pa­tient in pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity IP.

Hen­drick Sin, co-founder and vice-chair­man of CMGE Tech­nol­ogy Group, noted the im­por­tance of com­pa­nies creat­ing their own IP as pop­u­lar ti­tles can gen­er­ate huge prof­its.

“When we tried to get the fran­chise for our third One Piece game from our part­ners in Ja­pan, the IP price was sev­eral times more than that of the first game,” said Sin. One Piece is a pop­u­lar Ja­panese manga se­ries that be­gan in 1997.

As one of China’s largest pub­lish­ers of mo­bile games based on IP, SMGE be­came China’s first mo­bile game com­pany listed on Nas­daq, in 2012. So far, the com­pany has more than 200 mil­lion reg­is­tered users.

IP in­cu­ba­tion might not be as dif­fi­cult as peo­ple think, the fo­rum heard. Leo Huang Weim­ing and his team took only 15 min­utes to come up with Pleas­ant Goat and Big Big Wolf, one of China’s most pop­u­lar chil­dren’s car­toon shows.

To­day the brand spans 2,000 episodes, seven films and five stage plays. Its fran­chise busi­ness cov­ers more than 10,000 prod­ucts and a new film is be­ing planned for the 2021 Spring Fes­ti­val.

On the back of the huge suc­cess of Pleas­ant Goat and Big Big Wolf, Huang, gen­eral man­ager of Cre­ative Power En­ter­tain­ing Co, cre­ated the car­toon Happy He­roes, which also be­came a big hit in China.

“We have also com­bined this IP with the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try by launch­ing themed ho­tels in China, bring­ing the IP to a new busi­ness for­mat,” said Huang. To him, no mat­ter how the mar­ket and times change, con­tent as the core value of IP will never change.

IP pro­mo­tion needs to be com­bined with the trendi­est things in the mar­ket, said Xu Han, founder, chair­man and CEO of Dream Cas­tle. Xu is also the cre­ator of Ali the Fox, a pop­u­lar car­toon char­ac­ter with over 22 mil­lion fans in China.

“Twelve years ago, when I just started to cre­ate Ali the Fox, peo­ple liked buy­ing pic­ture books, so that was how I pro­moted the car­toon char­ac­ter,” said Xu.

“To­day, peo­ple like to send emoti­cons on so­cial net­work­ing apps, so we also launched emoti­con packs. On WeChat alone, Ali the Fox emoti­cons have been down­loaded over 100 mil­lion times and were shared over 1 bil­lion times.”

Not­ing the im­por­tance of di­ver­si­fy­ing the IP, Xu pro­motes Ali the Fox through a wide range of on­line and off­line plat­forms, launch­ing spin-off prod­ucts and even an in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion with Kishi Sta­tion in western Ja­pan, which be­came fa­mous for its cat sta­tion­mas­ter.

Sophia Xie Fei, CEO and di­rec­tor of Shanda Games, a do­mes­tic gam­ing in­dus­try leader backed by tech gi­ant Ten­cent, said the adap­ta­tion of IP is no longer lim­ited to pan-en­ter­tain­ment sec­tors. She cited tourism, hos­pi­tal­ity, theme parks and even new re­tail as other ar­eas that gen­er­ate huge po­ten­tial for IP col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Not­ing that many peo­ple think pop­u­lar­ity and mon­e­ti­za­tion are bench­marks to judge the suc­cess of IP, Xie said the in­dus­try should plan for long-term devel­op­ment to cre­ate IP that will res­onate with peo­ple. “By do­ing so, we can trans­form (even) a sin­gle hit IP into a clas­sic,” said Xie.

“China has a lot of good sto­ries and cul­tures. We need to fig­ure out how to spread that out by com­bin­ing them with films, dra­mas, games and lit­er­a­ture,” said Xie Guang­cai, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of Chi­nese All Dig­i­tal Pub­lish­ing Group, a lead­ing Chi­nese dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing com­pany.

“When de­vel­op­ing IP, it is im­por­tant for us to con­tinue our ef­forts in creat­ing good sto­ries, us­ing them to show the value and cul­ture of China,” he said.

Shanda’s Xie said that tech­nol­ogy can­not be ne­glected as it plays a key role in stim­u­lat­ing devel­op­ment and guid­ing the di­rec­tion of the en­tire in­dus­try.

“Whether it is be­cause of the ma­tu­rity of 5G and cloud-based tech­nolo­gies, or the wide adop­tion of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and vir­tual re­al­ity, we will see dis­rup­tive changes (in the fu­ture),” she said, cit­ing the mo­bile game in­dus­try as an ex­am­ple.

Li Yao, news edi­tor of China Daily Hong Kong, mod­er­ated the ses­sion.

PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY

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